Word of the day – Solipsism

Word of the Day : June 7, 2021


noun SOH-lip-sih-zum


  • : a theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and that the self is the only existent thing; also : extreme egocentrism

Did you know?

French philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650) can be blamed for the idea that if one whittles away beliefs about which one cannot be certain, one will eventually land at the existence of the self as a singular certainty; however, he cannot be blamed for either the word solipsism or the theory it refers to. (Descartes avoided falling into solipsism by positing that ideas known with the same clarity as the existence of the self is known must also be true.) Philosophical application of the word likely owes something to the French translation of a satiric work written by Venetian scholar Giulio Clemente Scotti in 1645 called Monarchia Solipsorum —in French, La Monarchie des Solipses. The pertinent term is a composite of the Latin solus (“alone”) and ipse (“self”).


“The solipsism born of social distancing and months of relative confinement leads me to see everything in relation to my current problem, which is online kindergarten.” — Lydia Kiesling, The New Yorker, 5 Oct. 2020

“The 41 essays in Vesper Flights continue her explorations into the more-than-human world. Whether viewing feral pigs … or tracking deer along the edge of a motorway, Macdonald works hard to break us humans out of our species solipsism.” — Jason Mark, Sierra, 8 Nov. 2020